A ride on the Friends of the Rivers' 1840s replica canal boat, Sweet Breeze, seemed like the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday. However, its second scheduled trip of the day hit a snag with a mechanical problem that forced the boat to turn back.
The scheduled cruises, designed as a way to share Fort Wayne's history and river points of interest, takes off from the Headwaters boat dock near the Harrison Street bridge south of the Pepsi bottling plant.
The 55-horsepower replica canal boat, which is 54 feet long and 11 feet wide, is similar to those that passed through Fort Wayne in the mid-1800s on the Wabash and Erie Canal. It can accommodate 40 people. The name was chosen through public votes and pays homage to the daughter of Miami Chief Little Turtle.
Saturday's trip planned to spend 45 minutes traveling to Portage Rock by Swinney Park before turning around, but a problem with debris clogging a screen that overheated the system forced the boat to return after about 30 minutes out.
Before that, Patrick Jones of Captain Rick's River Adventures explained that the Historic Wells Street bridge over the boat on the St. Marys River was the second iron one. The first one was destroyed when cattle were driven over the bridge ended in disaster when the animals crashed through the bottom and some landed in the river.
Guests got a closeup look at a huge logjam; marsh mallow plants once used as a source of starch by Native Americans; and Guildin Park, Fort Wayne's first public park opened in 1911 and destroyed by the Flood of 1913. They also learned about efforts with the Department of Natural Resources to prevent Canada geese eggs from hatching.
Guests were offered a refund or a chance to rebook a cruise.
Sunday's Father's Day cruise was listed as sold out with a couple of 45-minute tours available in the coming weeks. Cost for the available trips is $20 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under.
Make reservations through the Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot website, http://fwoutfitters.com. Under "Boat & Bike Rental" in the navigation bar, click on "Canal Boat Trips."